Bridget Jones musical plunged into confusion as Sheridan Smith pulls out of show
11:26 GMT, 6 April 2012
Sheridan's departure is being termed a scheduling problem and a failure to agree
Sheridan Smith, the Olivier-award winning actress, has dramatically pulled out of the musical version of Bridget Jones, plunging the project into confusion.
The show, based on Helen Fielding’s famous not-so-slim ‘singleton’ who keeps a diary about her desperate attempts to find a man, was due to go into rehearsals in August and open at the Savoy Theatre in late September or early October.
But just as the show’s producers were about to sign the complex deal to secure the Savoy, Sheridan and her representatives, in a move that has enraged those involved with the show, said she did not want to commit to a long run that would take her away from what is clearly becoming a burgeoning film and television acting career.
One furious creative connected with the show described it as ‘an act of pure selfishness’.
‘The girl ain’t a movie star —give me a break!’
It’s every theatre producer’s nightmare.
You spend years — and many thousands of pounds — developing a project with an A-list creative team that in this case includes Stephen Daldry, Ms Fielding, top choreographer Peter Darling, Lily Allen, Julian Webber (Daldry’s associate on the Billy Elliot musical) and producers from Working Title. But in the meantime, your leading lady’s career is growing in stature, and she’s in mega demand.
‘The show will survive because it’s in excellent shape,’ one insider insisted. ‘A great actress is required to play Bridget and whether that great actress is Sheridan Smith or someone else we’ll have to see. The person in that role does not have to be a star.’
Sheridan’s departure is being termed a ‘scheduling’ problem and a failure to agree.When Bridget Jones does bounce back, it will be next year.
Ms Smith, 30, was a sensation the moment she hit the stage, back in her teens, in Bugsy Malone and Into The Woods. But the show that established her as a bona fide star was Legally Blonde.
But it was a supporting role opposite Sienna Miller in Terence Rattigan’s Flare Path, directed by Trevor Nunn, that signalled to people that there was nothing she couldn’t do.
Her performance as Doris, a Cockney barmaid who waits anxiously for her husband to return from an RAF raid, was a pitch-perfect study in heartbreak.
The actress had always dabbled in TV dramas and comedies such as The Royle Family, Holby City, The Lenny Henry Show and Gavin & Stacey, but then she started winning lead roles.
A couple of weeks ago I saw her in a marvellous ITV thriller based on Daphne du Maurier’s Scapegoat. It also features Matthew Rhys — superb in a double role as a mid-mannered teacher who meets his doppelganger, a sinister aristocrat.
Sheridan plays the titled bloke’s sister-in-law. Scapegoat should be on the big screen, in my opinion; not the small one.
Dustin Hoffman was full of praise for Sheridan when he directed her in the film Quartet, where her fellow actors included Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon and Pauline Collins.
As I write, Sheridan is tweeting about how good the weather is in Sydney, where she’s starring in the ITV drama Mrs Biggs, about the wife of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs.
TWO MEN, FOUR GUVNORS . . .
From today, there will be Two Men, Four Guvnors.
James Corden, who gave a comic tour de force when he created the role of Frances Henshall in the National Theatre’s One Man, Two Guvnors last May, leads the original British company on Broadway tonight, when the first preview begins at the Music Box Theatre on 45th Street.
Meanwhile, Owain Arthur, who took over from James in London, continues in the production at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
According to NT executive director Nick Starr, that run is likely to be extended from September into the New Year.
There are still (to borrow Cilla Black’s phrase) a lorra lorra laughs to be had from One Man at the Haymarket.
Owain and his colleagues have put their own stamp on the show, directed by Nicholas Hytner and Cal McCrystal from Richard Bean’s ingenious adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s A Servant Of Two Masters. I’m looking forward to catching up with James’s brand of laughs at the Music Box. I’m also keen to see how the Americans relate to our humour.
As no less an expert than Dolly Parton observed to me last week: ‘American humour and British humour are different.’ But there’s so much shared culture now that I think they’ll get it on 45th Street. Even so, just to be sure, a handful of language tweaks have been made.
There will be a second regional tour of One Man later in the year, and it will scoot over to Australia, too, because some of those folk Down Under could do with cheering up.
So far, the National, Adelphi and Haymarket have sold 11.5 million worth of tickets.
‘It’s one of the most popular shows we’ve had. Bigger than History Boys,’ Starr told me.
But that’s because the NT didn’t know how to exploit Alan Bennett’s hit. The lessons learned from that situation have helped turn One Man, and NT stablemate War Horse, into the biggest non-musical shows in London.
Sony took delivery of the trailer for the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall, earlier in the week. It will be attached to all the prints of Men In Black III, which comes out here on May 25.
Not even Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones or Lady Gaga — stars of MIB3 — know what’s on the 007 trailer. But Sam Mendes, Skyfall’s director does (duh!).
Skyfall opens in cinemas on November 9 and I can’t wait to see Daniel Craig knocking back a Heineken instead of his regular Martini, shaken not stirred.
The film also stars Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Helen McCrory and Rory Kinnear.
South Pacific will not be sailing into the London Palladium after all. There were too many problems with getting tenor Paulo Szot to rejoin Samantha Womack.
There was also concern about putting the touring set the show has been using around the country into the Palladium — it would have looked cheap and hideous.
Anyway, it’s not coming into town, which is a shame.
Meanwhile, what to do about filling the Palladium The Charlie And The Chocolate Factory musical will preview early in May 2013.
But the current production of The Wizard Of Oz isn’t going to survive till the end of this year! Russell Grant’s contract is up next month. One shudders to think who they will find to replace him as the Wizard. Or will they put in some variety nonsense till it’s chocs away with Charlie